You wonder whether to start a blog in a subdomain, subdirectory or on a page of your site in order to get the biggest possible SEO boost? The bad news is that there isn’t one-fits-all solution, as what is right for you depends on your situation and your intentions. The good news is that there is a right way to do exactly what you want and get the biggest possible SEO boost.
Here you’ll learn about the three most common blog strategies, how each of them affects SEO, and when to use them.
Blog in a Subdomain
Blogs in subdomains is one of these things we got used seeing in the past decades since blogs became relevant as a part of website-strategies. The reason is though, for the most of it, not that it did much to boost SEO but simple technical limitations.
In the golden era of custom websites, developed especially for a customer by a web developer, websites were pretty stiff in terms of functionality. That is, if you didn’t order integrated blog functionality from the very beginning, you couldn’t get a blog on a page of your site without re-writing the code of the whole site. The expenses and the risks related to such a move made it a much better option to order a simple separate blog-page and run a blog separately from the main site.
Additionally, many early-SEOs saw and took the opportunity to generate backlinks by hosting blogs in subdomains – or under completely separate domains for what matters – and link to their main site from them – and it worked beautifully, at least in the beginning.
Today, the online universe has changed beyond recognition, offering flexible solutions, cheaper website designs, ease of working, and re-building websites. It is therefore not anymore a must or the most rational decision to host a blog in a subdomain.
It does, however, still make sense in certain situations, such as:
- If you offer blog content in multiple languages and you don’t have a multi-language functionality on your site, it does make sense to serve the blog content via separate subdomains.
- If your blog isn’t focusing on your whole business but just on a brand, activity, event, or similar, it is important to draw a clear line between your site and your blog to avoid confusion about the identity of the business.
- If you want to create and nurture a community around your brand, it’s important to provide it with its own space, where it can grow and develop. Keep therefore community-activities as blogs and forums on subdomains – close enough to the brand but separated from the business.
- If you are looking to generate some backlinks, you might also try to run a blog in a subdomain and use a smart linking strategy. This means that you shouldn’t overdo it, link only to your site or forget to deliver actual value to blog readers.
- If you let site members publish content in their own subdomain-spaces
From SEO perspective, subdomains can be treated as a part of a site or as separate entities, depending on search engines’ evaluation of the relation between domain and subdomains.
In practice, this means that, when keeping your blog in a subdomain, you risk that it won’t add to the SEO score of the main site, as it might (you can never be sure) be treated as a separate site instead of as a part of the main site.
Additionally, you’ll have troubles tracking web traffic correctly due to the fact that subdomains don’t share cookies with the main site, making it difficult to interpret data, without going in and changing the cookie settings.
SEOs advice therefore to only publish a blog in a subdomain, if you plan to use it as an independent source of traffic and/or backlinks to your site. If you, however, want to start a blog to score content and freshness points for the main site, you should consider the other options described below instead of using a subdomain.
Blog in a Subdirectory
Publishing a blog in a subdirectory is by some seen as equal to publishing it in a subdomain. There are, however, major differences, especially in terms of SEO.
Even though subdomain and subdirectory blogs are both separate installations, such as WordPress installs or simple blog software, and even though Google has announced that subdirectories are treated just as subdomains in terms of relation to the main site, MOZ and other SEOs disagree strongly.
The fact is that search engines treat subdomains differently than domains, in a way as 2-priority content. In the same time, subdirectories are, most often treated as a part of the main site.
The reasons can be found in the fact subdirectories share by default a lot of the technical setup with the main site, including cookies. This makes it, from a technical perspective, quite likely that search engines will treat a blog in a subdirectory as an integral part of the main site.
In addition, MOZ reports (see the MOZ link above) that simply moving their blog from a subdomain into a subdirectory resulted in instant boost in rankings for all tracked keywords on the blog. While this isn’t scientific proof for that theory, as it is just one case, there seems to be a lot of SEOs out there having similar individual experiences.
It makes therefore sense to publish a blog in a subdirectory if:
- The blog is closely connected to the main site but cannot be a part of it due to technical or strategical reasons
- A blog in several different languages, topically closely connected to the main site, is published on separate installs.
- The blog covers only one specific topic and therefore cannot be seen as representative for the business
- Your site is quite content-heavy and you want to move some of the content into a new install as a way to make the site more lightweight, thus faster.
- You want to publish fresh content often, without making your main site grow too much too quickly
- You want to channel a part of the site’s traffic to a subdirectory to avoid overload
From a SEO perspective, blogs in a subdirectory are an ideal source of fresh content and ranking signals. However, they cannot be used to generate backlinks to the main site.
This means that a blog in a subdirectory is a better option than blog in a subdomain in almost any case with the exception of the cases, where site members or customers are allowed to publish content in own blogs or the blog is meant as a backlink source.
You can therefore safely start your blog in a subdirectory and expect SEO benefits as boost due to fresh content, backlinks (to the blog content), traffic, engagement, and social interactions.
There is still a tiny possibility that search engines will misread the connection between the main site and the blog and this is unfortunately not something you can foresee or control. Therefore, it is still recommended as the safest option to publish the blog on the site itself, as long as it is technically possible and the blog doesn’t undermine the site’s strategy or coherence.
Blog on a Page of the Site
Especially with the rise of WordPress that brought website flexibility with it, placing a blog page on the main site itself became an easy and popular solution to the blog-dilemma. This isn’t coincidental though.
There are many good reasons to publish a blog directly on your site:
- You’ll with certainty get a SEO boost due to publishing lots of fresh content
- All of the backlinks to the blog will count. It is worth to note that Google insists that there isn’t a domain-wide SEO-score but common sense and years of battling for spots on the SERP suggest that established brands and websites do have a considerable advantage in comparison to newcomers, when page quality is equal. This might be a side effect of high traffic and lots of shares of established brands’ content, however, this is not proven.
- Your site will get more traffic and higher engagement rate, which directly boosts its SEO.
- Your site’s topical focus and relevance will be strengthened by a topic-relevant blog
- From a technical perspective, it’s much simpler to keep a blog on a page of the main site
- Large sites are seen as more reputable by search engines, making a blog with lots of content a very good idea.
Publishing a blog directly on a page of the site is for all these reasons seen as the best and totally safe choice. You are sure that you’ll be getting all the SEO benefits connected to running a blog and you’ll avoid the difficulties related to running multiple installs.
Therefore, SEOs recommend to keep the blog on a page of the site, as long as some of the reasons to choose to publish the blog in a subdomain or subdirectory, listed above, don’t apply.